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The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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CNN

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02:00:00

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Annapolis, MD, USA

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Comcast Cable

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Port 1234

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mpeg2video

AUDIO CODEC
mp2

PIXEL WIDTH
720

PIXEL HEIGHT
480

TOPIC FREQUENCY

Gadhafi 52, Libya 47, U.s. 41, Us 21, Nato 18, Syria 15, America 12, United States 11, Moammar Gadhafi 9, Cnn 8, Tempur-pedic 8, Moussa Koussa 6, U.n. 6, Misrata 5, Montana 5, Cairo 5, London 5, Afghanistan 5, Benghazi 5, Denis Kucinich 5,
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  CNN    The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting  
   and online resources update international news. New.  

    March 31, 2011
    5:00 - 7:00pm EDT  

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atlanta. >> she used to work here, until sheascended to the executive suite. >> she's big cheese now, but you're looking fantastic. you have fun? >> yeah, it was a blast. it always is. the president didn't come, but maybe next year. >> maybe next year. happening now, images of war and destruction in libya that the world hasn't been able to see until now. cnn finds a way to get into the city of misrata. it's been ravaged, terrorized by moammar gadhafi's troops. stand by. an al qaeda leader is cheering on revolts in the arab world and challenging views of our own security analyst peter bergen. directly i'll ask him about the
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uprisings, and why al qaeda is singling peter bergen out. they're playing zero, nada, nothing, if that doesn't tick you out, wait until you hear what ge's boss is saying today. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." a new warning that a massacre may be in the works 2349 libyan city of misrata. we have late w0rd that the libyan rebels are facing fierce new attacks by moammar gadhafi's troops and fighting back with any weapons they can find. it's been extremely difficult, if not impossible for reporters to enter the center of misrata five weeks into the civil war, but fred pleitgen and a crew were able to get in on a humanitarian aid ship. first, his exclusive report on the ballots for libya's third largest city. this warning -- this is war up
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close, viewers may find some of the following imaging rather disturbing. >> reporter: weeks of urban combat have taken their toll on misrata. badly damaged buildings, streets littered with wreckage. libya's third largest city, the final position stronghold in the west is under siege by pro-gadhafi forces. we're extremely close to the front line now, with a couple of the fighters from the opposition forces. this is in downtown misrata, a lot of destruction everywhere. most of the buildings have some sort of damage to them, pockmarks, a lot of destroyed cars in the streets. we can also see the people we're with, the fighters we're with are very, very tense at this moment. >> let's go. let's go. >> reporter: a celebration on a destroyed armored vehicle a step too far for pro-gadhafi forces nearby and the scene turns ugly.
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>> fire, fire, fire. >> as you see, that all is from gadhafi forces. buildings, gas stations, schools, even fire station they are destroyed. >> reporter: most residents have fled downtown misrata as forces have positioned snipers on tall buildings and used tanks and artillery in the city center. the antigadhafi fighters fight back with a few weapons that they have. they provided us with this video, saying it shows a man disabling a battle tank with a rocket-propelled grenade. those civilians still left are suffering. 12-year-old mohammed and his 15-year-old brother were wounded when mortars hit their parents' home. mohammed lost several fingers on his left hand.
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their father swears revenge. gadhafi should be killed, he says. he's not a human. he should be killed, but for now the medical staff at one of the few functioning hospitals are struggling to keep many of the wounded alive. they lack even the basics, anesthetic, operating tools and space. some patients must stay in the parking lot, the emergency room is in a tent in front of the building. >> all the doctors and medical staff didn't appear -- >> reporter: and they won't leave anytime soon, as opposition fighters struggle to hold on to this besieged town and forces loyal to moammar gadhafi continue to pound what not long ago was one of libya's most prosperous places. fred flpleitgen is joining .
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>> reporter: this is how we got into misrata, this is a fish trawler. they use this to get aid, mostly medical and food aid into the town of misrata. it's a very, very dangerous thing to do. in the past the pro-gadhafi forces have actually tried to launch small boat attacks on the port of misrata, which is still in the control of 9 opposition. it was this boat that we got into misrata with. they unloaded their aid, we went into town, took a look, and now we're using the boat to get back out. >> when you were in the town of misrata, we saw what happened, the fighting started, there was shelling, you were able to size up think opposition forces to gadhafi. did you get a sense they were up to the job of beating his military? >> i think they would have a difficult time, especially with the weapons they have right now. it's not only the fact that they have rifles, and make some rocket-propelled grenades. they actually make a lot of the weapons they use themselves.
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i saw a lot of guys with machetes, some makeshift rifles. having said that, they have held on to their territory. it really is only a small enclave in gadhafi territory. they have held on to that for weeks. they're preventing gadhafi tanks from coming in by putting sort of carpets on the streets and sets those on fire. so they believe that they have the staying power to win this. at this stage it seems different to see how they would do that. >> would air strikes, nato-led air strikes make any significant difference? did you see any evidence that there were air strikes coming in? >> reporter: a very -- well, yes, there were a couple air strikes when we were on the ground. there weren't many, and they do make a big difference. that's what the opposition fighters tell us. they say one of the reasons the forces haven't been able to take
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a lot of strategic locations, especially the port area, which is the lifeline, because ships like this can still come in and bring aid. the reason why the forths won't advance on those is they would be out in the open and would be hit by coalition aircraft. so the air strikes make a big difference, but what the opposition fighters tell us is they feel the coalition could taker more risks than it already is, hitting some et cetera downtown. hi tries to hide hi tanks in schools, under trees in residential areas. they feel the coalition should take more of those tanks out. >> bottom line, is it more weapons, ammunition that they opposition fighters need is it or is it basket training? >> reporter: they need a little
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bit of everything. they are courageous. weapons are definitely a big thing and is something they would certainly need. boatloads of things like rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, at least a little more than they have. they have a lot of trouble getting ammunition, have trouble getting weapons in case they lose them. so, yeah, that's a big issue. if they had a little more, they say they would be able to make advances, because they believe the population by and large is very much in the camp of the opposition, so they've already won them over. with a few more weapons, they say they could make a big difference. >> a few more weapons, but you say gadhafi's forces have tanks artillery, they're well armed. it's hard just with a few more weapons to defeat an army like that. >> reporter: but a lot of it, of course, in this urban war fair, urban combat -- i saw this up
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close -- depends on whether or not the population actually supports the force that's in there. of course you have people laying bobby traps, people attacking the tanks laying booby traps, using carpets to set roads on fire, and then the tanks go over them, and them people attack these tanks with metal bars and the like. when the population is against an invading force, it would become difficult for the forces to hold that area. would the opposition be able to take it? it's very much up in 9 air. that's what they say they would be able to do if they had more support and the big thing obviously is a few more air strikes. >> when i saw your report in misrata, fred, i was scared for you. i was frightened for you. how scared were you? >> reporter: well, i mean there was certainly some situations where it seemed like quite a
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dicey situation. there was one we went downtown with the opposition fighter, and we saw that they seemed to be quite scared. that's where obviously we had to get out of the there. there were bullets whizzing by. it's a very uncertain situation. you don't know who controls a lot of these streets. you don't know when a tank will push forward. and you can see, i mean, we were a bit worried, but the people who live there, a lot of them are in absolute fear, wolf. >> yeah, they certainly are. fred, be careful over there. we'll stay in close touch. thank you. u.s. officials say the defection shun of libya's foreign minister shows pressure is having an effect. moussa koussa led to london yesterday. hes the highest ranks official to break with the regime. he once serve as the intelligence chief, and has
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secrets to tell. the british prime minister says there's no deal of any kind to give moussa koussa immunity. joining us from tripoli, nic robertson. nic, you're getting some reaction from the libyan government on the defection shun of the foreign minister moussa koussa. >> reporter: we haven't had a reaction from the top, gu the government is saying they allowed him to deeffect, because of health reasons. they said he had a heart condition, but it's very clear from the fact that it took them limb 24 hours to respond to the defection that they didn't know it was coming. the government's trying to put the best face on it that they
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can, but it rings hollow. moussa koussa tricked this government, tricked the leadership and has left the country and left them hanging, wolf. >> how significant is this defection? will it wind up hurting gadhafi? >> reporter: it's significant, because this was a man trusted by gadhafi, as head of intelligence all the way through to 2009, but also in the '80s, he was a man who was behind a lot of libyan terrorist actions, a wanted criminal in europe at the time. so this is a man who was trusted by gadhafi to deal with wmd, to deal with the lockerbie issue, a man who would vet visiting heads of state before they got to meet with gadhafi, so this is a man here who gadhafi had in the inner circle, whom he trusted and listened to. a moderating voice, if you will, that's no longer moderating gadhafi's actions, so nobody to
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hold him back from the excesses, the excesses like sholing his own sith zens. so this is going to have an impact beyond just no one to run the foreign ministry, but the impact on his country. >> we were showing pictures of that recent interview with moussa koussa. >> reporter: he was giving us a robust defense of the rye gym just a month ago when we arrived here. yet two weeks later at a press conference, he was reading with his head down in his notes, very unconvincing. he doesn't seem passionate, didn't seem to mean what he was saying. at that point i felt this was a man who no longer had his heart in this regime. the regime must vls noticed this as well, and the people working underneath him must have noticed this as well. despite all of that, he was able
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to trick them. no doubt people looking at him knowing he was trusted, and now has decided to go on the right side of history. there will be people wondering if they should be doing the same thing, wolf. >> nic robertson reporting for us. one of the most dangerous is taken on our analyst peter bergen. and denis kucinich is accusing president obama of reckless and arrogant behavior. i'll ask him about his heated rocks about u.s. policy in li a libya. and general electric's chief send making in apologies today for the fact that his company isn't paying a dime of income tax on the 2010 run.
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views of peter bergen. in this magazine they have online called "inspire" this is al qaeda in the a. he says, for a so-called terrorism expert such as peter bergen, it's interesting to see how he doesn't get it right this time. for him to think because a taliban-style regime is not going to take over following the revolutions is a too short-term way of viewing or unfolding events. what do you think about your view that this will not be a bo nanzo for al qaeda. >> i think that analysis has clearly got under these guys' skins. al a nd he's taking me to task personally and fareed sa kariya
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and others. le does say elsewhere they're related by the events in the middle east, mujahedeen are rising up, but the actual evidence is pretty limited. >> you responded, i'm not a betting man, but if i wsh, i would place long odds to al qaeda or allied groups have been a significant role in any of these countries' views? so you're getting right back at him? >> i think that gambling is vise that islam doesn't encourage. >> but he might respond? >> he might. this is the fifth iteration of this english language magazine that's pretty sickly produced, a lot of graphics, photographs,
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they're trying to put their message out in english. unfortunately it's having quite some effect. that his sermons are having an effect. >> how do you feel when he mentions -- >> i don't feel anything. it's a weird form of -- no, he's got bigger fish to fry. >> the argument that he makes, some say, you know what? they're very patient, they don't look at it in terms of a year or five years. they think in the end time is on their side. you've heard that argument. >> right. yeah, they are thinking long term. that said, if they just wait and wait, events are passing them by. people on the barricades in cairo, libya and elsewhere just
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are not -- al qaeda's ideas are not part of what they are demanding. let's see if vegas will take the odds on that bet. thank you very much. >> thank you, wolf. growing outrage over the u.s. mission in libya. >> this is is clear and arrogant violation of our constitution. just ahead, i'll speak with denis kucinich, and i'll ask him what he thinks the position is doing wrong. does he think the president should potential be impeached? also, radiation levels near that crippled nuclear power plant in japan now soaring to an all-time high. stand by for details. [♪...] >> male announcer: book now,
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radiation levels in the ocean waters near japan's quake-battered nuclear power plant are soaring for an all-time high. lisa sylvester is monitoring that as well as top stories in the "the situation room." what do you got? >> the nuclear safety agency says the amount of radioactive material in samples are more than 4,000 times above the regulatory limit. authorities have not been able to determine where the contaminated water is coming from. meanwhile, high levels of cesium
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have been found in the beef near the plant and reports suggest that it could prevent the recovery -- here in the united states experts are echos the assessment that there's no health risk from drinking milk with low levels of radiation. milk sample from washington state and california showed minute execute amounts of radioactive material. the epa is boosting its monitoring of rad yags in milk, drinking water and precipitation. and nasa says the "endeavour" sustained minor damage during a powerful storm. the storm packing high winds, lightning and hail head yesterday. more bad weather is preventing further inspection of the spacecraft. "endeavour" is set to launch on the final mission april 19th. >> we'll we watching and wish the best. congressman denis kucinich, democrat of ohio says u.s. military action may be an
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president obama's getting flack from members of both parties on capitol hill, even after his new attempt to explain u.s. military intervention in libya. one of the his harshest critics is a fellow democrat, denis kucinich of ohio. he had blistering comments on the house floor today. congressman kucinich is joining us in "the situation room." thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks, wolf, good to be with you. >> why are you so angry at the president? >> i'm not angry at the president. i have appealed to the president to respect the constitution, saying you have to involve congress in any decision to make war. the white house just refuses to do that. >> but he says he did involve the congress, send a letter notifying congress, he gave the speech the other day, had a briefing for members of congress, they called into the white house situation room. they say they have repeatedly
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spoken. >> that's not what the constitution calls for. it doesn't say if you meet with ten members, it's all okay. article i, section 8 makes it abundantly clear that the congress has to approve the united states going to war. so he didn't comply with that. frankly, that is a pretty serious violation. >> he's saying it's a united states approved action. and it's not necessarily a unilateral u.s. act of war. >> okay. check this out. over 100 tomahawk missiles s. bombers -- >> 200. >> over 200 tomahawk missiles, bombers dropping 2,000-pound bombs, we're not chasing the rebels -- in effect chasing gadhafi's army providing the rebels with air cover. if this is not a war, then we better regin what a war is.
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of course it's a war. people's lives are being put at risk. >> about you he is the commander in chief, right? >> you know what? yes, but that doesn't go into effect until the congress authorizes a war, and he's not only -- the administration has not only abided by the constitution, not even abiding by the war powers act, but exceeded the u.n. mandate. it -- you with go after gadhafi's army, because eventually you're going to go into civilian areas where people support gadhafi. >> since world war ii, the u.s. has acted militarily against other countries without a formal declaration of war being approved. the supreme court has said that's okay. >> well, you know what? the supreme court actually has left this contest open between congress and the administration sbu there's a difference. when the stakes are as high as they are in the region.
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when you have conflict moving around the world, unless congress is consulted s the dangers of the united states going into a wider war are quite serious, and so the president should go back and read george washington, thomas jefferson, alexander hamilton and "the federalist papers" and see why our early founders believe that congress has to make the first decision. >> you know, he was a professor of constitutional law at the university of chicago law school, so he's got a history. let me get to the issue of impeachment. >> i'm glad you mentioned that. >> you raised the issue of impeachment. do you still believe potentially the president could be impeached as a result of what he's thor iced the u.s. military to do in libya? >> there is no question that the president exceeded his constitutional authority. that's not even disputed.
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>> is impeachment on his agenda? >> no e. of course not. a country can't be put through that, but it needs to be understood that the president does not have power to u.n. lat real -- i said to read this. the president does not have power to unilaterally authorize a military attack that does not involve stoppingsh barack obama, december 20th, 2007, constitutional expert. this is my unimpeachable authority. >> what were you subjecting the other day when you suggested that impeachment potentially could be on the table? >> i didn't put it that way. >> how did you put it? >> i put it this way. i want that he has exceeded his constitutional authority, and i asked the question to whether or not that could be an impeachable offense. he's our president. we don't want him to be impeachable. he's put himself in a position where he's made the office vulnerable, because he's exceeded the authority which the
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constitutional or war powers act, or for that matter the u.n. mandate provides. >> we're taking a few hits in our signal from capitol hill. hopefully it will get fixed. some of his members of his own administration, whether it's hillary clinton or the am das bore susan rice, they say this is a humanitarian mission really to save lives, if the president wouldn't have authorized this action, tens of thousands of innocent libyans would have been killed in benghazi. i'm sure you appreciate that concern. >> we all want to make sure that innocent lives are never lost. we've got to be quite discerning about intervening, because when you intervene in what is proving to be a civil war, then you intervene one side against the other and end up with more casualties. >> don't you feel a lot of innocent people were saved as a result of what the president authorized? >> you know what, the u.n.
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commission that arrived in libya to try to find out whether or not these accounts were true, they had to leave because of bombing, so we don't know. we want to have a humanitarian instinct, but we also want to make sure -- and there is nothing wrong with going to congress and getting approval based on humanitarian intervention, but he didn't do that. >> we have to apologize for our viewers, because we've been gidget hits with the signal. are you going to challenge him for the presidential nomination? >> no. >> okay. you gave me a good yes or no answer. denis kucinich, democrat of ohio, thanks for coming in. stand by for another top democrats's take, the overall mission, the way the president is handling it. i'll speak with the chairwoman dianne feinstein. i'll ask her what might happen
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if the u.s. helping to arm the rebels. and cnn is told in details about the weapons his forces desperately need. ♪ stay inside? nah. not when you have a five-star overall vehicle score for safety. one more reason chevy traverse delivers more.
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a u.s. sxwel jens source says cia operatives have been working with rebel leaders on the ground in libya to try to reverse gains by gadhafi force. this as nato has taken sole command of all coalition air strikes. top u.s. military officials say
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it's a fluid situation. they got a tough grilling today by congress. let's go to capitol hill. our senior correspondent was there watching it all unfold. how did it go, dana? >> reporter: there were four hearings today, and for the first time the congress got a chance to question parts of the war council. in hearings across the capitol, frustration and doubts about the libya mission boiled over. >> this is just the most muddled definition of an operation probably in u.s. military history. >> i am very worried about this whole idea of mission-creep. >> it's a heck of a situation when we go into a conflict and we don't know who we're supporting. >> reporter: agitated lawmakers tried and failed to get answers from the defense secretary and joint chiefs chairman on how long the mission will last and when gadhafi will go. >> the bottom line is no one can predict for you how long it will
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take for that to happen. >> reporter: but military leaders bechbt over backyards to describe a limited libya operation, the u.s. pulling back to a supporting role. that caused john mccain deep concern. >> for the united states to be withdrawing our unique offensive capabilities at this time sends the exact wrong signal. >> reporter: a major point of bipartisan contention, lack of approval. >> we have been left out in the cold. >> vld have been better for the white house to begin discussions as we build up to this decision. >> reporter: robert gates insisted the president gave congress amp le -- >> if tomorrow a foreign nation intentional, for whatever reason launched a tomahawk missile or
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its equivalent to new york city, would that be considered an act of war against the united states of nerk? america? >> probably so. >> if it's an act of warrick, would it not always be an act of war to launch that by us on another nation? >> presumably rurp tough questions revealed troubling answers. >> regarding arming the rebels, they seem to be getting their butts whipped. we know a few of their leaders, but there's a lot more we don't know. >> what the opposition needs more than anything right now is some training, some command and control and organization. it's pretty much a pickup ball game at this point. >> reporter: this irate democrat warned some libyan rebels have actually attacked u.s. soldiers in afghanistan. >> how do i explain to american service men from my district that there's -- that those with blood on their hands, american
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blood on their hands are fighting in libya -- >> reporter: the deputy secretary of state responded by simply saying that it is a policy of the u.s. to defend the libyan people. and wolf, as for the defense secretary he revealed for the first time he's personally opposed to arming the rebels, even though that is a policy the administration is active discussion, and gates set no ground troops, quote, as long as i'm in this job. >> he was adamant about that. the longer this goes on, the questioning will intensify, i am sure. thanks, dana. rebel forces in libya on the defensive as gadhafi loyalists close in. do they need more help from the coalition? short answer -- absolutely. just ahead an opposition leader speaking exclusively with cnn. you'll hear what he has to say. plus an american arrested in syria. while some are calling him a scapegoat.
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ask me. if you think even the best bed can only lie there... ask me what it's like... when my tempur-pedic moves... ...talk to someone who owns an adjustable version of the most highly recommended bed in america... ask me about my tempur advanced ergo. ask me about having all the right moves. these are real tempur-advanced ergo owners! find one for yourself. check out twitter. try your friends on facebook... see what they have to say...unedited. it goes up... ask me what it's like to get a massage ---any time you want.
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...it goes down... ergo...nomics... ergo...nomics... tempur-pedic brand owners are more satisfied than owners of any traditional mattress brand. (in chinese) ask me why i never want to leave my ergo. ask me why i'm glad i didn't wait 'till i was too old to enjoy this. start asking real owners. ask me how to make your first move... find out more about the tempur advanced ergo system! call the number on your screen for your free dvd and information kit. to find an authorized dealer near you, visit tempurpedic.com. tempur-pedic. the most highly recommended bed in america. the political debate is intensifies here in washington. let's bring in our senior political analyst gloria borger. it seems that the american public is conflicted on this issue. >> yeah, it's interesting, because they don't want another all-in war like iraq and
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afghanistan, but they're clearly conflicted, because they're not sure what the end game is here, wolf, what the goals are. a pew poll taken before the president's speech, so the president may gef a bump, showed that only 47% of americans supported the mission in libya, but what's so interesting, wolf, is that independent voters are the most skeptical about libya. 57% to 35% say there is no clear goal. i think that's really where the political play is here, because they have a sense of improvisation about this mission, sort of seat of the pants, and they don't like it, and they're worried that we don't know where it's headed. >> how does all of this play out in the presidential campaign for next year? >> it's kind of interesting. americans are conflicted, because we know we don't want to drive the car here, but we're not sure we trust anybody else to drive the car for us. and so it plays into the whole
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leadership issue with republican candidates, and haley barbour, who i guarantee you will run for the presidency on the republican side. let's take a listen to what he said on the radio about leadership. >> in fact the obama administration's position has been to say we're just one of the boys, we're not going to try to be the leader. and we see that when you don't have strong leadership from the strongest country in the world, that everybody else scattered out and breaks up umplts it's interesting, wolf you don't have to say whether you're foror against military intervention, you just have to criticize obama as a leader. newt gingrich has famously said he was for an intervention and no-fly zone, then he said he was against it, because he didn't like the way obama was conducting it, so this gives them an opportunity to take on the president on that big issue. >> gloria, thanks very much.
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clearly what the president needs more than anything politically is a quick victory. >> if gadhafi goes, he's a hero. >> if it drags on and on and so, not so much. >> right. here at home, an outrageous story. >> everybody watching this program is paying taxes, including the secretary out at the front desk of my office, and she's paying more than general electric. they paid nothing. >> actually ge made $5 billion in profits last year. the company wound up paying the federal government in taxes not a penny. we'll tell you why, what's going on. the latest intelligence on libya's opposition. we're talking to one of the best informed lawmakers in congress, the chair of the senate intelligence committee. that's coming up as well.
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corporate giant general electric is in a growing political firestorm, being forced to explain to an outraged american public how a multi-billion dollar company winds up not paying a penny in any federal income tax. lisa sylvester is here with details. a lot of people's blood is boiling when they hear the story. >> wolf, this year tax day is
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april 18th. right around the corner. millions of americans are gathering up receipts and w-2 forms to file taxes, but general electric and vast army of accountants has a federal tax bill that may be surprising. the company that touts we bring good things to light had been very good about shielding its profits from u.s. tax collectors. ge had profits of $14.2 billion in 2010. $5 billion of that made in the united states. but the company's expected u.s. tax bill, a grand total of zero dollars. that's right. zero dollars is what ge owes to the irs. they're also claiming a $3.2 billion tax benefit. >> everybody watching this program is paying taxes, including the secretary out at the front desk of my office. she's paying more than general lek rik. they paid nothing. >> ceo jeff immelt defended his
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company arguing they have done nothing wrong. >> like any american we do like to keep our tax rate low. >> how does a fortune 500 company making billions end up not owing a penny in taxes? and the fact the company's financial arm lost billions and is still reelg from the financial crisis. is it legal? yes, says scott hodge with the tax foundation. >> they may be using everything within their means to minimize their tax burden. there's an irs auditor always looking over their shoulder to make sure they do it correctly. >> other companies like bank of america and even cnn's parent company time warner have used losses to offset the tax burden. but immelt has come under fire because he was tapped to be the
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white house job czar and is advising the white house on corporate reform. the white house is defending the president's choice and says immelt's voice is only one opinion. >> he wants to hear diversity of opinion. in the end the decisions made about which policy to pursue on corporate tax reform will be the president's dpgs. >> now ge says it has paid significant federal income taxes for prior years and ge's ceo says they expect the tax rate to go up in 2011. >> a lot of members of congress, including republicans who don't want to increase taxes at all, they want to take another look at the laws right now to make sure that a company that makes $5 billion in profits doesn't pay 36% in federal income tax or 20% or 10%. they want to make sure they pay something to the federal government. and the thing is, some real conservatives say no new taxes. you can't raise taxes.
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well, they can rewrite the laws to make sure a company like ge or other companies don't get away with this. >> and even ge will say that's part of the prob is the system. the tax system that we have right now. it is so complex and complicated. it has to be reformed. >> they need millions of dollars to hire lawyers and accountants to get what they want. as a result they pay zero. zero in income tax. we're going back to libya in a moment. reza sayah had an exclusive one on one interview [ male announcer ] how can power consumption in china,
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a desperate mother pleading with syria to spare her son. cnn's ivan watson reports. >> at least let someone talk to him. let someone see him. i don't know! i want to see my son clm i have no idea where he is! >> reporter: an anguished mother's message to the president of syria. the last time she saw her son mohammed was when he suddenly appeared on syrian state television last saturday. in what appears to be a telev e televised interrogation, the 32-year-old egyptian-american confesses he exchanged he mails with a colombian journalist who asked him to take pictures in syria and said he would pay
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around $17 for photo. the report calls him a foreigner paid to destabilize syria. >> the syrian government did not charge him with anything yet officially. you know what? they left that to the media. >> born in houston, mohammed is a graduate of texas a&m university. last january he left his job at an oil company in syria to join protests in cairo against egyptian president hosni mubarak. he gave an interview about the uprising. >> they actually went into certain neighborhoods. >> syrian television accused him of trying to export egypt's revolution to syria. as far as we know, he has not been charged. >> he is not a spy. he is not anybody except a young man who is full of hopes, and he is full of idealism. >> she is mobilizing supporters
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for her son's release here in cairo. family members, friends and supporters have gathered here in front of the syrian embassy in cairo to raise awareness and put pressure on the syrian government for his release. this is his cousin. what exactly -- are you getting any response at all from the syrian government about your cousin? >> no, not at all. his father has been there since sunday. he's met with officials from both egyptian and american embassies. i don't think he's been able to reach the syrian authorities. if he has, they haven't given him any information at all zblmplt the small crowd stands quietly, armed only with flowers and signs. and this mother's silent appeal to a distant president. speaks so much louder than words. ivan watson, cnn, cairo. >> you're in "the situation room." happening now, libya's rebels
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trying desperately to hold the line against the tanks, the artillery of moammar gadhafi's forces. they're appealing for help. we'll hear exclusively from a top rebel commander. as the u.s. scales back its role in the skies over libya, there's concern on capitol hill about the rebels' fate. the pentagon gets a grilling from both sides. and the mysterious defection of moussa koussa. what made him flee to britain? we're digging deeper. breaking news, political headlines and jeanne moos all straight ahead. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin with growing desperation for libya's rebels. outgunned and out numbered. they were driven back to a few remaining strongholds. moammar gadhafi's troops have used a let up in allied air strikes to push forward. there's deep concern today in congress where the chairman of
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the joint chiefs of staff told lawmakers that gadhafi will, quote, kill as many as he must to crush the rebellion. let's go to reza sayah in rebel-held benghazi, the second largest city in libya. you've spoken to top rebel commanders. what is their basic message? >> reporter: well, they need help. you know, the rebel fighters love to show you the victory sign and fire shots in the air in celebration. we haven't seen that for the past couple of days because it's been a tough couple of days for them. they lost two key cities. i sat down with the opposition's military spokesperson. he was very frank. he said if we don't get help, if something doesn't change, we're going to be in deep trouble. when you look at the past couple of days, it's been a rough stretch, is the opposition losing this fight?
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>> translator: it has been very hard. the past few days because the freedom forces have been facing heavy tanks and artillery weapons with very light weapons. >> these are the same small weapons you were use when you were gaining ground. now you're losing ground. what changed? what was the turning point? >> translator: there is no denying the coalition forces air coverage has helped to flee the volunteer forces. >> what you're suggesting is the coalition support and the air strikes are not as intense as they used to be? they are doing their job well. >> are they doing it as well as they did a few days ago when you were gaining ground? >> they are doing their job well. and we are doing our job as well as we can. >> my sense is that you're
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disappointed with what is a decrease in air strikes. but you don't want to appear critical of the coalition. >> translator: yes. we don't deny it. we want more to bring a speedy end to this. a strike is not a strike unless it kills. >> it's becoming more clear who the opposition fighters are. no one is questioning their courage and determination. but would you agree that this is a force that really doesn't know how to fight a real war? >> translator: the libyan forces is made up of two components. the free libyan army and the free libyan volunteer ls. and in the case of the volunteers, yes, they require training. >> troops on ground. it looks more and more that your
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forces could use that. are you open to that? >> translator: all options are open to us. >> reporter: a lot of urgency setting in with the opposition. he said he suspects gadhafi's forces are anticipating lulls in air strikes, and they are moving eastward in the lulls. we can't verify this. but that's how they're making progress. i asked him what the rebel fighters most powerful weapons are. he said rocket propelled grenades, heavy artillery. wolf, they don't have a single tank at this point that functions. >> are they getting any weapons, any ammunition from outside? >> reporter: at this point, they say they're not. there may be a covert operation that's getting them weapons. there are rumors this is happening. at this point he says they're
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not. the call for the weapon tols get here is louder on the part of the opposition. >> they realize that now that nato is in command of the air strikes, for all practical senses, the united states is no longer engaging in direct air strikes. no c1-30s. no a-10s. all the air strikes will be non-u.s. the u.s. is going to back them up with air refueling capabilities, surveillance or whatever. i assume they're disappoint that had the united states is walking away from the direct air strikes. >> reporter: yeah, i think they're deeply concerned. the fact that nato is now in charge will change the complex of this operation. today you heard him. he's not going to come out and openly be critical of the coalition and the nato operation. he is deeply concerned these are going to decrease in number.
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help from the coalition is' key to the success of the rebel fighters. without them the weaknesses are exposed. >> without the u.s. directly engaged in the air strikes, they're not going to get what they really want, these rebels. reza, thanks very much. reza sayah in benghazi. nato did take full command of the operation over libya today. the u.s. has been reducing dramatically its role. all of this comes as the rebels take a beating, a major beating on the front lines over the past two days. defense secretary, robert gates and admiral mike mullen were on capitol hill. pentagon correspondent chris lawrence has more on the military part of the story. >> the u.s. military is in the process of backing off this mission. but secretary gates said that was the way it was supposed to be from the get go where the u.s. would do a lot initially with the tomahawk missiles, hitting the strikes and then handing off to nato. he argues with even a reduced mission costing americans $40
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million a month and u.s. troops stretched through iraq, afghanistan, and japan that there's so much money in resources to go around. the u.s. is calling off its missiles and jets that have been bombing moammar gadhafi's tanks and troops. >> we would not be participating in the strike missions. >> they say they holstered the most defective weapons right when they're needed most in libya. >> the fact is that the timing is exquisite. >> senator mccain says gadhafi is routing the rebels now. >> that's when we announce that the united states is advocating its leadership role and removing some of the most valuable assets. >> reporter: the fight is over the a-10 and ac 130s used to attack gadhafi's forces in and around cities. they fly low, closer to the target, and shoot machine gunfire instead of dropping bombs. >> you've pulled them off. they're not flying and there's
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no -- >> i haven't pulled them off. >> bad weather in libya grounded the gun ships the last few days, and in this gap, gadhafi's forces regrouped. the planes will fly for just a few more days until nato takes total control. >> the idea that the ac 130s and american air power is grounded unless the place goes to hell is so unnerving i can't express it. >> senator graham argued the u.s. needs to do more, not less. >> would it be unlawful for some nation including ours to drop a bomb on him to end this thing? >> well, president reagan try that had. >> well, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try again. >> it would break the coalition. >> who would be mad at us if we drop ad bomb on gadhafi? why would they be mad? >> there doesn't seem to be
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agreement on what the allies want. does gadhafi have to be killed or as an incentive to stand down, given sanctuary in another country. >> some are going to put on standby. and if the situation gets bad enough, the nato commander could call on them. although, that request would have to come back up the u.s. chain of command, wolf. >> you know andrews rasmussen said the security council resolution does not authorize arming the rebels. the obama administration has a different interpretation of that resolution. they don't rule it in. they don't rule it out. what that an issue that came up in the hearings today? >> it did, wolf. secretary gates said that's a responsibility best left to america's allies. he said whether the rebels are armed or not, there are allied nations that are perfectly
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capable of getting those arms and getting them to them if that decision is one that everybody agrees to. >> that's a huge issue. thanks very much, chris lawrence, for that. the report from the front lines. ben wedeman spent the day with the rebels battered by gadhafi's rockets and machine guns. can the will power make up for ha lack of weapons and train sng and a long time libyan insider quits, flies off to britain. what's behind the mysterious defection of the foreign minister
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lulls in air activity have allowed gadhafi's forces to advance. they're appealing with more air strikes. with nato in command, there's a new reality in the skies over libya. and joining us from capitol hill, senator dianne feinstein, the chair of the senate intelligence committee. thanks very much for joining us. >> you're very welcome. >> the defense secretary confirmed today what senator lindsay graham hinted to us yesterday. that now that nato has taken charge of the air action, all of the military action over libya, the u.s. is no longer taking an active role in strike activities in libya. is that a good idea? >> well, i believe that's the case. yes, i think it is a good idea. i think not having our participation in this is appropriate. we used our technology to secure
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air superiority. that is secured. the agreement was when that was secured nato would take over. so nato will now take over the no-fly zone and embargo. >> the reason i raise the question is because the opponents of moammar gadhafi are losing big time right now, and nato will certainly not do as robust a military action as the u.s. would want to do. do you want to see the rebels defeated? >> no, i do not want to see the rebels defeated. but the president said no boots on the ground. and i agree with him. we have a number of other nations that can put boots on the ground. these nationsan also figure out how best militarily to hit gadhafi. i could make suggestions there. look at his regime protection brigades. specifically the two controlled by his sons. 36 and 9. >> what would you do?
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would you strike the brigades? >> i would go ahead and strike those brigades. >> should the u.s. launch air strikes against the brigades? >> this is now a nato mission. >> but fay toe won't do it with turkey and germany. s you well know. >> i wouldn't say that at this time. you don't know. >> there seems to be over the past 24 to 48 hours, senator, a really decline in air strikes pounding of libyan gadhafi positions. >> well, the key to this, and has been from the beginning, it begins an ends with gadhafi. i think his minister defecting in great britain is helpful. hopefully others will follow suit. i think we'll see in the next couple of days. this is the first day nato has been in charge. we'll see how they do. many military missions can be
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carried out. >> when all is said and done, do you agree gadhafi must be replooufed as the leader of libya? >> absolutely. >> how far should the u.s. go in achieving that goal? >> the united states should do essentially what has to be done to move him out of office. >> kill him? >> i didn't say that. i'm not getting into that. physically or finding a diplomatic solution as secretary clinton suggested is appropriate. but it's key to me the end game begin to be discussed. it's hard to expect rebel forces to be able to defeat a well organized military. however, you know, gadhafi was wor aried enough that he is putting his troop in civilian dress. that indicates the kind of
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person he is. we need to deal with gadhafi. >> i understand what you're saying. the cia is obviously playing some sort of role. your committee oversees the cia. what is the cia role in libya right now? >> well, i can't tell you that. that's clear. that's classified information. and i don't talk about it. >> is it simply make you can explain this. is it simply intelligence gathering or covert action designed to help the rebels? >> good try. i'm not going to discuss it. >> that sensitive of a piece of information? because it's been in all the papers today whether there's involved in intense gathering or are they trying to spot targets and help the rebels defeat gadhafi's forces? >> everything you read in the newspapers isn't always correct either. >> that's true. how worried are you about al qaeda elements being part of the
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opposition forces in lish ya? >> well, i've seen reports that caused me some worry, some concern. there's no question that the call has gone out. the question is, what is actually been realized. it is sufficient enough for me to believe in view of past history, afghanistan, iraq, that we should not arm the rebels. >> what about indirectly. should the u.s. encourage egypt or saudi arabia or other countries to arm the rebels? >> wron what that we need to do that. they're free countries. we did in afghanistan. we got burned by it. we did in iraq. we got burned by it. those weapons cropped up later being used by us. i don't think it's something we ought to do. other than maybe a few dozen, we don't know who these people
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really are. with don't know if gadhafi goes what they would espouse, and to arm them when the call has gone out for jooe had and there's ans laumic front, i would be very reserved. >> we're out of time. is there any daylight at all between you and the the obama administration when it comes to libya? >> the president has had good advisers. secretary gates, secretary clinton, admiral mullen. i think they came to a joint decision. hopefully it can be carried out successfully. >> so no daylight? >> no daylight. >> senator, thanks very much. we'll have you back. >> anti-government demonstrations spreading in
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syria. now he may be bowing to some of the protesters' demands. will it be enough? and a specially trained united of marines headed to japan. we're taking a closer look at the mission. host: is the pen mightier than the sword? ninja 2: ow vogeico. 15 minutes uld save you 15% or more on car insurance.
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back to libya and what's going on over there. other important news we're following as well including tornado warnings in effect this hour across north and central
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florida after severe weather tore across the region. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room." >> wolf, check out these pictures for the clear water airport. you see them here. high winds and apparent tornadoes tore across the area earlier today. up ending planes, downing trees and power lines. causing extensive damage to buildings. there are some reports of minor injuries, but police say in an earlier report that about 70 people were trapped in a collapsed building. that was false. more than 150 marines trained to deal with chemical and nuclear problems are headed to japan to help with the nuclear crisis there. the maryland based unit could arrive at an air base near tokyo as early as tomorrow. the marines are trained in search and rescue md con tap nation. and residence of the bronx can now breathe a sigh of relief. a deadly egyptian cobra that went missing on saturday has
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been found. a zoo official says the 20-inch long snake was found, quote, alive and well inside the reptile house. it went on a little adventure and came back in. >> went for a walk. had a little party. went back. >> got some coffee and went back. >> glad the snake is where it should be. thank you. a key libyan insider. a former intelligence chief. could his defection mean a gold mine of information about the gadhafi regime? and who are libya's opposition leaders. we'll take a closer look at some of them including those who studied or lived in the united states. plus, we'll show you how syria allows the regime in damascus to allow a brutal crackdown push your onstar button and you could be one of them. even if you're not an onstar customer. ♪ just push your blue button and tell the advisor
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he was a long time gadhafi regime insider. a little more than 24 hours ago he was libya's foreign minister ex. we're dig deeper into the mysterious defection of moussa koussa. jill dougherty is looking into
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moussa koussa for us. what are you finding out about this guy, jill? >> it's fascinating, wolf. for weeks u.s. officials have been urging gadhafi's inner circle to think twice. abandoned the libyan leader or they, too, could pay the price for war crimes. in this defection by moussa koussa, they claim, shows that circle is fraying. just two hours before he arrived at an airfield in london, the u.s. says it got word from british authorities that libya's morn fin ster was defecting. >> while we should not overstate the significance of this, we should not also understate the fact that somebody has seen there's no future there. >> the gadhafi regime immediately down played moussa koussa's defection. >> mr. moussa koussa asked for sick leave because he was exhausted physically and he had
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diabetes and high blood pressure. >> reporter: but u.s. officials say if koussa will talk, he could be a treasure-trove of information. for years the former head of libyan intelligence was one of moammar gadhafi's closest advisers. a senior u.s. official tells cnn he could provide inside information on the libyan leader. like his where abouts, his closest associates, control over his military and what would drive him to leave libya. moussa koussa, a graduate of michigan state university, was a main libyan negotiator with the u.s. and britain on gadhafi's decision to give up his nuclear weapons. he was also suspected in involvement of the 1988 bombing of pan-am 103. he play ad key role in groeshting the groesht i negotiating the release of the lockerbie bomber. he's not being given immunity from prosecution. libyan rebels want to put koussa
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on trial for murder for the brutal crack down on the opposition. just last month koussa was justifying it to cnn's nic robertson. >> so you're saying that innocent people haven't been shot, unarmed innocent people have not been shot by the army or police? >> no. >> not at all? >> translator: in some cases, only when the terrorists is holding his gun, of course we have to answer back. >> up until last week koussa was calling the state department trying to make the case the rebels were on the side of al qaeda. he never indicated that he wanted to defect. >> we made the argument that part of a regime going nowhere. >> and u.s. officials say claim this has psychological value as well, saying it could make gadhafi more paranoid, causing him to worry if people like moussa koussa step away and leave, who is next?
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and this afternoon, wolf, late this afternoon, word from cnn's ivan watson that in fact libya's choice for u.n. representative is defeking, too. >> yeah, i suspect there's going to be more of that going on as well. thanks for that, jill. let's bring in cnn national security criminal intent tor fran townsend. she's a member of the cia external advisory committee. she met with high ranking libyan officials last year. you met moussa koussa. what's he like? >> he's incredibly bright, but also incredibly manipulative person as you would expect in the head of an intelligence service. he held the job for decades. it is true to say he is one of two officials outside of the gadhafi family who have been with gadhafi and remain very close to him. one is moussa koussa, the former head of libyan intelligence. the other who we've not talked about is abdullah sanusi, the current head of libyan intelligence.
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we've heard nothing about him. as those relationships fracture, this is an undeniable success for the coalition in the administration. gadhafi relied on them for his own security, for his face to the world. he will be extensively debriefed not only by the british but i expect the american intelligence service and others. people will ask him questions they already know the answers to. whether or not he provides details or seems to be lessen his own cull ability. >> the british say he receive nod sense of immunity for showing up in london. should he be arrested for crimes committed, a, against the libyan people and b, against others on
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pan-am 103. >> the fbi has long wanted to speak to moussa koussa. for that reason he didn't travel inside the united states other than to come to the u.n. the travel is protected. the question is the fbi had long sought to interview him as well as others like sanusi, who i mentioned, who have been implicated by the evidence. and really what the question is, is there sufficient evidence to indict him on the pan-am 103 case? not clear. the case would have to be put together in the international criminal court. could be relating to the crimes against the opposition leaders. >> whatever charges he may face, he believes he's better off in london than tripoli. we'll learn more about moussa koussa in the days and weeks to come. thanks for that. rebel forces battling troops loyal to gadhafi. ben wedeman is live with a
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report from the front lines. and details emerging on just who is leading the rebellion. we'll tell you what we're learning [ male announcer ] myron needed an mba to turn his technology into a business.
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libya's rebels have been trying to hold the line against the tanks, the artillery of moammar gadhafi's forces. the outgunned rebels have some will power but not a whole lot of other assets. cnn's ben wedeman cement the day on the front lines with some of these opposition forces.
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he's joining us now from eastern libya with more. what did you see, ben. >> reporter: what we have now is essentially a stalemate on the front lines with the libyan forces in control of the town of brega, where, of course, there's that point oil refinery, and what we saw today on the front lines were all the short comings of the rebels on display. this is some of the heaviest firing power the forces have. rocket fire, heavy machine guns. all in action at what is at best a very shaky front line east of brega, a strategic refinery town that changed hands six times in the last six weeks.
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brega is once more under the control of libyan government forces, and the rebels say even with a no-fly zone and nato air and missile strikes, there's still no match for gadhafi's men. this is useless, says this fighter, giving me his antiquated soviet made machine gun, adding it's only good for pigeon hunting. the fighters fire their weapons all day long. but by the afternoon they start to run out of ammunition. which means, of course, they have to retreat. dramatic advances are followed by dramatic retreats. high moral doesn't make up for lack of progress. the ammunition is replenished each day when the rebels move to the front.
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logistics supply are a slap dash affair. the provision of fuel, food and other supplies is more a personal than a group responsibility. all of which underscores a basic fact, the rebels don't have a strategy. he says he was in libyan special forces ten years ago, and admits that even with better weaponry, the military opposition to gadhafi is leaderless at the front. >> group by group. every group together. is somebody thinking of a plan? >> maybe. maybe. sure. but i don't know why he doesn't come up. why he wait. for what? i don't know. >> reporter: the rebels need to come up with a plan soon because they won't be able to win this
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battle by brovado alone. and of course the rebels are increasingly calling for more weapons. weapons to be provided by the united states and other western powers. site e it seems, wolf, even know the united states and allies don't necessarily want it, the people here in eastern libya are desperate for more western intervention. wolf? >> how worried are they in ajdabiya and even in benghazi, which is the second largest city? the rebels control that city for now. how worried are they that the libyan military will be able to regroup and do in the coming days or weeks what they were on the verge of doing before the coalition air strikes started, namely threatened to take over those towns. >> they're very wo worried since it's in this town, ajdabiya
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almost all the civilians have fled. they've gone to benghazi. the worry is they can always come back. they occupied the town for ten days. we're seeing a changing of tactics. the rebels are doing the same thing over an over again day after day. they are changing tactics and driving around in civilian cars to attack the rebels. they're using real guerrilla tactics. this is beginning to undermine the morale of the rebels who thought once there was a no-fly zone. once nato planes started to bomb the targets and elsewhere in the country, it would make a difference. on the grount it really isn't. wolf? >> we'll see if the nato command has the political guts now, the stomach to go ahead and launch the air strikes the way some of the rebels obviously would like. ben wedeman on the scene for us in ajdabiya.
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thanks very much, ben, for that. as details emerge on the people leading libya's rebell n rebellion, many have close ties to the west. what about the uprising? let me tell you about a very important phone call i made. when i got my medicare card, i realized i needed an aarp... medicare supplement insurance card, too. medicare is one of the great things about turning 65, but it doesn't cover everything. in fact, it only pays up to 80% of your part b expenses. if you're already on or eligible for medicare,
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plus you can keep your own doctor and hospital that accepts medicare. and best of all, these plans are... the only medicare supplement plans endorsed by aarp. when they told me these plans were endorsed by aarp... i had only one thing to say... sign me up. call the number on your screen now... and find out about an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan. you'll get this free information kit... and guide to understanding medicare, to help you choose the plan that's right for you. as with all medicare supplement plans, you can keep your own doctor and hospital that accepts medicare, get help paying for what medicare doesn't... and save up to thousands of dollars. call this toll-free number now. two weeks after establishing a no-fly zone over libya, many in the west are still asking who are the rebels? details are now emerging on system of the opposition movements most important
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figures. brian todd has been digging into their backgrounds. he's here. brian, what are you learning. >> wolf, the people taking prominent leadership roles with the rebels seem to have two strains in common. former members of the gadhafi regime. they've been away for fr libya for a long time or a combination of both. u.s. officials admit it's still hard to get a complete handle of who is leading the group, but a few people are starting to emerge. make no mistake. libya's rebels are still a reeling disorganized force. but we're no now getting a clearer picture of who they are, people like gabril. >> when did you arrive sf. >> last night. >> he's a chief foreign affairs rep along with ali esoui. not long ago he was also a chief economic adviser to gadhafi. a 2009 cable on wikileaks calls
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jibril a serious who gets the profession. >> he graduated from american university this year. gadhafi is asking to come to libya to join form and draft the constitution. >> he knows most of these men. i asked him about one figure who is just now emergeg from the shado shadows, a former libyan army who is now the top military commander after spending more than 20 years living in northern virginia. >> not much is known about him. what can you tell us about him? >> well, he's a very professional military man. he was in charge of the army when there was a war in the late '80s. he was arrested by the chadian government. >> his experience in the disastrous border war with chad in the '80s soured him on gadhafi. the most prominent is
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abdul-jalil who often went against his vengeful boss. most of them are well educated, experienced, well connected to the west. but they also have some drawbacks, which could end up fracturing this group in the future. ronald has written several books on libya. >> i have real concerns that the older group that is tied to the regime or outside of the country for a long period of time will be able to relate to the young rebels in libya and provide effective leadership that the rebels will accept. >> ambassador jalil counters by saying plenty unifies the group. they all want a unified libya, and they all want tripoli as the capitol. we do have to say that he represents the rebels in washington. he has a dog in this fight. >> he broke with gadhafi. he's now the ex-ambassador as far as the state department is concerned. brian, thanks very much. as libyan troops push back
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militarily against the rebels, the government is mounting a p.r. campaign. details coming up. syria's president under pressure as violent protests spread across the country. we're going to tell you what might be coming up next. ask me. if you think even the best bed can only lie there... ask me what it's like... when my tempur-pedic moves... ...talk to someone who owns an adjustable version of the most highly recommended bed in america... ask me about my tempur advanced ergo. ask me about having all the right moves. these are real tempur-advanced ergo owners! find one for yourself. check out twitter. try your friends on facebook... see what they have to say...unedited. it goes up... ask me what it's like to get a massage ---any time you want. ...it goes down... ergo...nomics... ergo...nomics... tempur-pedic brand owners are more satisfied than owners of any traditional mattress brand. (in chinese) ask me why i never want to leave my ergo. ask me why i'm glad i didn't wait 'till i was too old to enjoy this. start asking real owners. ask me how to make your first move... find out more about the tempur advanced ergo system!
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syria's president is forming a panel to look into the possibility of lifting a state of emergency that's been in
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effect since 1963. the move comes amid widespread protests that have left dozens of people dead throughout the country. cnn's mary snow is following the story for us. everyone, thought that bashar al assad yesterday was revoking this emergency law. didn't happen. what's happening now? >> yeah, wolf, there was such widespread disappointment after that speech. today's announcement might be seen as a gesture to protesters, but there's little hope that government will make any big changes. it may look like a small protest. demonstrators throwing shoes at timmage of syrian president bashar al assad in a sign of s disrespect. but in syria, it's illegal. as protests grow, a key demand is to lift that law. the syrian government says the ruling bath party will study doing that. a pledge met with skepticism.
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>> the regime, it's much more clever than the gadhafi regime. it's having very soft language to the international community, but acting on the ground in different way. >> reporter: human rights organizations say dozens have been killed in protests in the city of durrah and latakia. syria's emergency law allows the government to make preventative arrests with no recourse. professor joshua landis is with the university of oklahoma. >> some people assure you that the intelligence services now, which are immune, they can arrest you, drag you off at midnight, and if they do something wrong, let's say they torture you or beat you up, you have no recourse against them in syria. >> reporter: the law allows government to monitor phone calls and e-mails and the media is censored. as syria mulls lifting the emergency rules, some human rights activists are concerned they'd be replaced by a strict anti-terrorism law. landis says one message is clear
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in president bashar al assad's speech wednesday. syria is not about to become a democracy. >> this was a sort of national security speech in which it was you're with us or you're against us. so he's going to have to show some effort to meet his protesters, but it's not going to be anywhere near as much as they're hoping for. >> and a spokeswoman for the syrian information ministry told cnn that the emergency law will be lifted, but said procedures must be worked out. now, the committee looking into it is expected to finish its study by april 25th. wolf? >> mary snow, thanks very much. you might think that one thing no one would want more of is drunken driving. you're wrong. jeanne moos will update us on a montana politician's most unusual stance. stick around. you're in "the situation room." i realized i needed an aarp... medicare supplement insurance card, too. medicare is one of the great things about turning 65,
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but it doesn't cover everything. in fact, it only pays up to 80% of your part b expenses. if you're already on or eligible for medicare, call now to find out how an aarp... medicare supplement insurance plan, insured by unitedhealthcare insurance company, helps cover some of the medical expenses... not paid by medicare part b. that can save you from paying up to thousands of dollars... out of your own pocket. these are the only medicare supplement insurance plans... exclusively endorsed by aarp. when you call now, you'll get this free information kit... with all you need to enroll. put their trust in aarp medicare supplement insurance. plus you'll get this free guide to understanding medicare. the prices are competitive. i can keep my own doctor. and i don't need a referral to see a specialist. call now to get a free information kit. plus you'll get this free guide to understanding medicare. and the advantages don't end there. choose from a range of medicare supplement plans... that are all competitively priced. we have a plan for almost everyone,
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so you can find one that fits your needs and budget. with all medicare supplement plans, there are virtually no claim forms to fill out. plus you can keep your own doctor and hospital that accepts medicare. and best of all, these plans are... the only medicare supplement plans endorsed by aarp. when they told me these plans were endorsed by aarp... i had only one thing to say... sign me up. call the number on your screen now... and find out about an aarp medicare supplement insurance plan. you'll get this free information kit... and guide to understanding medicare, to help you choose the plan that's right for you. as with all medicare supplement plans, you can keep your own doctor and hospital that accepts medicare, get help paying for what medicare doesn't... and save up to thousands of dollars. call this toll-free number now.
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here's a look at some hot shots. in france, carved figures are on display for a mid-lent carnival. in new england, a hot air balloon floats over a lake as part of a festival. in hong kong, an emerald and diamond tiara at auction. and in london, a tea kettle shows prince william and kate middleton ahead of their upcoming royal wedding. hot shots, pictures from around the world. jeanne moos reports on a montana politician's very unusual position on drunken driving. >> reporter: if there's one thing you can drink to, it's that nobody is going to defend drunk driving, right?
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so it felt a little like watching a car wreck when montana state representative alan hale rose to speak against all dui laws. >> these dui laws are not doing our small businesses in our state any good, at all. they're destroying them. they're destroying a way of life that has been in montana for years and years. >> that's insulting. >> reporter: the president of mothers against drunk driving was just getting warmed up. >> it's scary. it's alarming. it's ridiculous. >> these taverns and bars in these smaller communities connect people together. they're the center of the communities. >> reporter: they sure connected folks in classics like "hang 'em high." but riding drunk was a lot less lethal than driving drunk from a bar. >> there's only two ways to get there. either you hitchhike or you drive. and i promise you that they're not going to hitchhike.
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>> reporter: in arguing against dui laws, this republican tea party friendly montana legislature stirred up a hornet's nest. >> his comments are just mind boggling, that someone would still think that way. >> laura dean mooney lost her husband, mike, to a drunk driver going the wrong way. we called representative hale several times for comment, but got no reply. montana is a wide-open state, as someone named dan posted. to be fair, this is montana where you could drive across half the state drunk and pass maybe two drivers the whole time. to which someone named dave responded, and endanger both of them for perfectly selfish reasons. awesome. representative hale and his wife know a lot about bars. they operate one called the silver saddle. despite hale's 35-second speech against dui laws, a tougher dui law was passed. and after critics got